Case Closed: Jesus’ Wife Papyrus a Forgery

A couple weeks ago, the Jesus’ Wife papyrus was making the rounds again in mass media, mostly in articles citing chemical/material analysis “proving” its authenticity. Here is one such article:

Back in October of 2012, when Karen King (a professor at Harvard) first announced the text at a conference in Rome, I wrote the following op-ed for a student newspaper:

Just today, a blogger friend and adept Coptologist (Alin Suciu) cross-posted and confirmed the finding of a “smoking-gun” which definitively proves that the “Jesus’ Wife Papyrus” is a forgery:

The piece of paper used was authentic, but its content is just a modern forgery. Sadly, it probably sold for quite a profit on the antiquities market. Even more worrisome is how the forgery so easily fooled various scholars and how the mass media became an echo chamber, probably because the “finding” so nicely fit the trope of the scandalous and controversial, turning upside down traditional/customary beliefs about the celibacy of Jesus. Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code and its conspiracy theories about Jesus’ secret love relationship with Mary Magdalene make for good entertainment, but not solid grounds for evaluating ostensibly ancient texts.

– Mark Bilby

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